Climate change is hurting vulnerable populations in developing countries, and posing new risks to USAID programs. It threatens to set back development progress and hamper further gains. For example, increases in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns can reduce harvests from rain-fed agriculture or shift the geographic range of diseases such as malaria. USAID is systematically factoring climate risk into program design to increase the impact and sustainability of its development work, without regard to funding stream. These integration efforts help people, communities, governments and institutions better adapt to climate change and lead to improved development results.
In recent years, USAID has built its capacity to integrate climate change across all development sectors and is providing staff and partners with resources, knowledge and skills to consider climate change in their work. Through this work, USAID has learned some key lessons:
- A systems approach that begins with an understanding of development objectives, and risks to achieving them, facilitates climate change integration.
- Building the capacity of USAID staff and partners is important to increase understanding and sustain climate change integration.
- Integration must be actively promoted and managed.
- Integrating climate change can bring new opportunities, such as increased civic engagement.
- Dedicated climate change funding can leverage additional resources for climate resilience.
- Climate change activities can benefit from incorporating methods and knowledge from other sectors.
- Climate change is best considered early in the design of programs.
- Creating guidance, tools and resources to support climate risk management throughout the Agency. Climate change is now a formal part of USAID’s process for programming development assistance. The Agency developed a climate risk screening and management tool and other resources to help staff assess and address climate risks. Climatelinks supports this work by providing country and regional information for staff and partners.
- Integrating climate change into key USAID global initiatives and sector strategies and into 62 percent of USAID country and regional strategies.
- Increasing climate change knowledge, skills and abilities of 800 staff in 72 missions working on agriculture, economic growth, energy, environment, governance, health, humanitarian assistance and infrastructure, who can now better integrate climate change considerations in their sector.
- Ensuring that every USAID bureau and mission has a Climate Integration Lead. This person supports climate risk management and helps colleagues identify opportunities to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation into their programs.
The USAID Climate Action Review: 2010-2016 highlights the achievements of USAID and its partners since the launch of the US Global Climate Change Initiative in 2010. The report describes the evolution of USAID’s approaches, summarizes major achievements, distills lessons learned and shares examples from adaptation, clean energy, sustainable landscapes, and climate change integration activities in over 40 countries.
Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.